NBA Sects Reach Pact, Games Resume on Christmas
Written by Glenn Minnis, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com Monday, 28 November 2011 05:03
After months upon months of public campaigning and partisan debate that at times grew as contentious as what now largely masquerades as politics, NBA players and owners have reached a tentative agreement that averts what would have surely proven tantamount to a nuclear winter for the most ardent of hoops fans, paving the way for the league to commemorate its return to relevancy with a Christmas Day tripleheader.
On the 149th day of a lockout so rife with threats and ultimatums, the two factions grew enough angst and agitation to sacrifice upwards of a half-billion dollars in lost revenue to spite the other side, ultimately the parties came to reverse their fledgling fortunes with an act as mundane as a handshake. With that, the second longest work stoppage in the league’s 65-history is no more, and the jumpstart button has been set anew on a redefined, recalibrated 66-game season highlighted by 48 conference games each.
In place now is a 10-year agreement - with either side able to opt out after the sixth year - that calls for the players to receive as much as 51 percent of all basketball-related income (BRI), down significantly from the 57 percent they received last year, yet a substantial increase over the 47-percent share owners were said to be proposing in a hard-line stance just two weeks ago that not only led to talks completely disintegrating, but sent players scurrying from hardwood courts to legal ones.
“None of that matters now. All I know is I can’t wait,” Detroit Pistons free-agent guard Tracey McGrady told ESPN regarding the player’s recent move to decertify as a union and file a pair of separate antitrust suits against their bosses. “That’s all forgotten. Every player I know misses the game. I know I'm speaking for all of us when I say, 'Let's get this party started.'"
A glowing testimonial indeed, and yet a cynic couldn't help but wonder: If things truly were that simple and all parties earnestly that forgiving, why did it take all of five months and countless all-night bargaining sessions for both parties to come to such a basic understanding?
All that talk Amare Stoudemire started back in early October about players being “very, very serious” about understanding the need to perhaps start their own league and working on a blueprint? Well, that wasn’t just spur of the moment disenchantment talking. Aside from the growing contingent of players who shared Stoudemire’s vision, consider that by the end of last week, its finer points were also being echoed by the likes of NBA Player’s Association Executive Director Billy Hunter and DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Player’s Association.
“There are faculties where we can do,” were Hunter’s exact words. “Can’t play at MSG, but can play at St. John’s. There’s talk of getting a TV deal and creating a new league, but it’d have to be with a network that’s unafraid to cross the NBA.”
NBA players coming to stand up to Commissioner David Stern and his billionaire brotherhood as they did may also prove a first step in that direction for others. Throughout these ultra-tense negotiations, Stern was vintage Stern, openly chastising and castigating anyone and everyone who would dare not share in his clearly monolithic vision for the 400-plus millionaire players with whom he should be sharing center stage.
At one point, the man whom Charles Oakley once lamented “runs the NBA like a Cuban dictator” even took on Miami Heat star guard Dwyane Wade in a finger-pointing, eye-rolling, from-the-bowels-of-the-gut shouting match that, again, spoke volumes about his approach to doing business.
So disrespected felt Wade that the usually mild-mannered, respectful father of two felt compelled to snap at his boss: “You’re not pointing your finger at me. I’m not your
But now, all that is forgotten - or at least that’s the company line being bandied about by both parties.
“The reason for the settlement is we’ve got fans, we’ve got players who would like to play and we’ve got others who are dependent on us,” said Stern. “It’s always been our goal to reach a deal that was fair to both sides and got us playing as soon as possible ... but that just took a little time.”
Syracuse University finance professor and social commentator Dr. Boyce Watkins weighed in with this: “At the end of the day, I would think these guys will be shrewd enough and respectful of their business enough to move forward with that in mind. For the most part, I think the fans will be back; I don’t think the game has been gone long enough for any of that support to have really eroded. Besides, we’ve been here before, and NBA fans have proven to be pretty forgiving.”
Especially when the likes of New York vs. Boston, Miami vs. Dallas and Chicago vs. Los Angeles lay waiting in the wings.